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Erick Rodríguez wrote:

Hi, Mike —

Thanks for the previous information. I was talking to my non-Catholic girlfriend the other day and she ask me:

Why don't Catholics bring their Bibles to Mass?

She asked me because it was her perception that we read little fragments from the Bible, and that's not enough to understand it completely.

She told me they read a verse, then another, and so on, to really understand the Word of God.

Well, I really don't know the answer.

I hope you can help me with this.

Thanks again,

Erick

  { Why don't Catholics bring their Bibles to Mass so they can really understand the Word of God? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Erick —

Thanks for the question.

The confusion here is due to two different presumptions.

Most non-Catholic Christians, believe the Bible and the Bible alone is the sole foundation for all truth. They don't believe in the authority of any one Church. For that reason, most of their church services are based solely on Bible readings and the personal interpretations from their preacher. Nevertheless, nowhere in the Bible does it say: "The Bible is the sole rule of faith".

  • She believes in "the traditions of men".
  • Catholics believe in the Traditions of God!

The Catholic presumption, which is based on historical fact, is that Jesus founded ONE Church, (Matthew 16:13-20, Isaiah 22:22, 1 Timothy 3:15), against which the gates of Hell will not prevail.

Yes, the Word is useful for correction, instruction and proper behavior, See 2 Timothy 3:15,
but in that verse, nowhere does it say that the Scriptures are:

1. required for salvation or
2. the only source for correction, instruction and proper behavior.

Remember, at the time Timothy was writing his letter, the Canon (or group of Bible books) of Scripture had NOT been determined yet. No Christian would know the books of the Bible until 407A.D. when the Catholic Church finally decided which books are part of the Written Word of God. Timothy's reference to "The Scriptures" were the Old Testament Scriptures.

Every time your girlfriend opens her Bible, whether she knows it or not, she is saying:

I trust the Catholic Church and the decision that the Pope and Catholic bishops made, guided by the Holy Spirit, on deciding which books to include and which books to exclude from the Bible.  She believes, as we do, they are the Holy Word of God.

  • If she trusts the Church back then, why can't she trust that same Church now?

She will say the Bible is the foundation of Truth, but the Bible says:

The Church of the Living God is the foundation of Truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

Because the authority of the Bible comes from the authority of the Catholic Church, one has to read it with "Catholic eyes" in order to understand it correctly.

If you don't use this approach, it is like George Washington saying: "Here is the Constitution, interpret it for yourself!" If America did that, we would be in chaos. This is why we have one Supreme Court — to interpret the Constitution for all Americans and all Americans must accept its interpretation.

You said in your e-mail:
She asked me because it was her perception that we read little fragments from the Bible, and that's not enough to understand it completely.

She told me they read a verse, then another, and so on, to really understand the Word of God.

Well, I really don't know the answer.

Practicing Catholics who attend Mass every Sunday hear the entire Bible over a three year period. Practicing Catholics who attend daily Mass hear the entire Bible over a two year period. Priests give sermons to comment on the passages of the Holy Scriptures. If your friend is reading one verse, then another verse, then another verse, but taking them all out of context, she, like any other Protestant minister or Protestant lay person can interpret the Bible to say whatever they want. The end result is they establish their own set of personal moral principles.   That's why we have so many Protestant denominations today.

One area in which I will agree with your friend, is the need for Catholics to study and read the Holy Scriptures more than they do. When they do that, they will find that the Holy Scriptures are NOT the pillar and foundation of truth, but the Church who gave us the Holy Scriptures is.
(See 1 Timothy 3:15).

The Catholic form of worship is based on the words of Christ, Our Lord, in the Scriptures themselves. Here are the important passages:

  • Matt 26:20-30
  • Mark 14:16-25
  • Luke 22:14-19
  • John 6:50-70

You want to share with your girlfriend that what St. Paul is describing here is what true Christian worship was meant to be:

1 Corinthians 11:23-24

Note: In Luke and 1 Corinthians, Our Lord says:

"Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me".

  • What is one of the reasons why Catholics go to Mass on Sunday?

To Do this and renew our baptismal covenant with the Lord Jesus.

One of the most important faith-sharing points for showing that Catholic beliefs are truly Christian beliefs, is the fact that the immediate followers of the Apostles were practicing what Catholics believe today! This shows them that to be fully Christian is to be Catholic!

JUSTIN MARTYR — THE FIRST APOLOGY OF JUSTIN — written in 148 A.D. to 155 A.D.
CHAPTER LXVI. — OF THE EUCHARIST.

And this food is called among us Eucharisti'a(5) [the Eucharist], of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things which we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and who is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh.(6)

For the apostles, in the memoirs composed by them, which are called Gospels, have thus delivered unto us what was enjoined upon them; that Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, said, "This do ye in remembrance of Me,(7) this is My body;" and that, after the same manner, having taken the cup and given thanks, He said, "This is My blood;" and gave it to them alone. Which the wicked devils have imitated in
the mysteries of Mithras, commanding the same thing to be done. For, that bread and a cup of water are placed with certain incantations in the mystic rites of one who is being initiated, you either know or can learn.

JUSTIN MARTYR DIALOGUE WITH TRYPHO written in 155 A.D.
CHAPTER XLI. — THE OBLATION OF FINE FLOUR WAS A FIGURE OF THE EUCHARIST.

"And the offering of fine flour, sirs," I said, "which was prescribed to be presented on behalf of those purified from leprosy, was a type of the bread of the Eucharist, the celebration of which our Lord Jesus Christ prescribed, in remembrance of the suffering which He endured on behalf of those who are purified in soul from all iniquity, in order that we may at the same time thank God for having created the world, with all things therein, for the sake of man, and for delivering us from the evil in which we were, and for utterly overthrowing(4) principalities and powers by Him who suffered according to His will. Hence God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [prophets], as I said before,(5) about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: 'I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord; and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands: for, from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, My name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure offering: for My name is great among the Gentiles, saith the Lord: but ye profane it.'(6) [So] He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us, who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist, affirming both that we glorify His name, and that you profane [it]. The command of circumcision, again, bidding [them] always circumcise the children on the eighth day, was a type of the true circumcision, by which we are circumcised from deceit and iniquity through Him who rose from the dead on the first day after the Sabbath, [namely through] our Lord Jesus Christ. For the first day after the Sabbath, remaining the first(7) of all the days, is called, however, the eighth, according to the number of all the days of the cycle, and [yet] remains the first.

JUSTIN MARTYR — THE FIRST APOLOGY OF JUSTIN — written in 148 A.D. to 155 A.D.
CHAPTER LXVII. — WEEKLY WORSHIP OF THE CHRISTIANS.

And we afterwards continually remind each other of these things. And the wealthy among us help the needy; and we always keep together; and for all things wherewith we are supplied, we bless the Maker of all through His Son Jesus Christ, and through the Holy Ghost. And on the day called Sunday,(1) all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability,(2) and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given,(3) and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And they who are well to do, and willing, give what each thinks fit; and what is collected is deposited with the president, who succors the orphans and widows and those who, through sickness or any other cause, are in want, and those who are in bonds and the strangers sojourning among us, and in a word takes care of all who are in need. But Sunday is the day on which we all hold our common assembly, because it is the first day on which God, having wrought a change in the darkness and matter, made the world; and Jesus Christ our Saviour on the same day rose from the dead. For He was crucified on the day before that of Saturn (Saturday); and on the day after that of Saturn, which is the day of the Sun, having appeared to His apostles and disciples, He taught them these things, which we have submitted to you also for your consideration.

My sources:

1. The Early Church Fathers on CD-ROM by Harmony Media.

2. Faith of the Early Church Fathers by William Jurgens (3 books)

If she doesn't believe in Catholic sources, tell her to go to a secular library and look up the same quotes there!

  • Does this mean private Bible reading is not important?

NO, the Church has always encouraged Bible reading by the faithful, both the New Testament and the Old Testament. The Bible was written by Catholics for Catholics in the Catholic worship service, Holy Mass.

Hope this helps,

Mike

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